2022 MBA To Watch: Christopher Collar, Boston College (Carroll)

Christopher Collar

Boston College, Carroll School of Management

“A bold, ambitious, and proven leader who prioritizes the welfare of others before his own.”

Hometown: Appleton, Wisconsin

Fun fact about yourself: While I was a cadet, I had a great opportunity to work for IBM as a financial analyst intern with the strategy and budgets team. One of the internship’s signature events was joining my fellow cadet interns, the NYSE President, and several IBM senior leaders in ringing the Closing Bell. I was given the honor of pushing the big green button to ring the bell atop the trading floor’s balcony as the iconic NYSE specialists and CNBC anchors looked on in applause from below. Standing at the epicenter of capitalism and global capital markets makes this one of the most surreal and influential moments of my life.

Undergraduate School and Degree: United States Military Academy (West Point), Bachelor of Science in Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? United States Army, Armor Officer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? SVB Securities (formerly SVB Leerink), New York, NY

Where will you be working after graduation? SVB Securities, Investment Banking Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I wanted my community work during business school to be as local as possible. So, I decided to volunteer with the Newton Food Pantry only three miles from where I live in the Greater Boston area. I found the hands-on involvement to be incredibly fulfilling due to the essential impact that alleviating food insecurity can have on our neighbors’ and their families. I’d like to think that I’ll be leaving the Boston area with a stronger connection to its people because of this experience.

During my second year in the program, I filled informal leadership roles with the Graduate Finance Association and Student Veterans Association by advising and training many first-year students in their pursuits towards securing internships in the financial services industry.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During my “Digital Transformation” course taught by Prof. Gerald Kane, it was required of all students to maintain a blog for the purpose of further educating classmates and prompting discussion in and outside of the classroom on topics linked to the course material. I took this open-ended opportunity and ran with it by conducting a months-long study of Polkadot and its blockchain ecosystem. I linked Polkadot’s innovative design and features to concepts my fellow MBAs would utilize in their careers as future business leaders such as talent management, business-government relations, digital citizenship, and classical economics. Given my classmates’ critical acclaim for the blog, I successfully broadened their understanding of the potential of blockchain technology beyond that of a computer coin casino. Additionally, I challenged myself to link blockchain technology with traditional business, political, and economic concepts which is scarcely done by pundits and journalists in the industry. I am sure the blog will make a reappearance in the near future.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of earning the trust and confidence of the soldiers I led, despite being the least experienced soldier in the platoon. This achievement is not demonstrated by an award, achieved through workplace politics, or measured by a set of KPIs. It is demonstrated by soldiers unconditionally performing at 110% day or night and as soon as orders were received. It is achieved by maintaining one’s competence at an expert level, character beyond reproach, and humility in a state of growth. It is measured by a second-to-none team performance on every mission, great or modest. This achievement represents the most sacred bond between leaders and their teams in the profession of arms. In hindsight, I had not realized the magnitude of this bond with my soldiers until my time at NTC was near its end. According to senior officers in attendance at my promotion ceremony to Captain, they have never seen one more well- attended by senior and junior enlisted soldiers.

Why did you choose this business school? It should come as no surprise that I chose Carroll due its robust reputation of producing leaders in the financial services industry. While there certainly are other business schools that share this reputation, Carroll – and more broadly Boston College – pair this reputation with a set of unique cultural intangibles that I did not observe at other programs such as selfless service, unpretentiousness, and adaptability. I knew that this combination would support my journey towards a career in finance as an admirable leader.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Definitely BC football games and accompanying tailgates. These events reflect the unity between fellow Eagles across programs and graduation classes. Whenever I attended them, I made new connections with alumni, undergraduates, parents of students, faculty, and incoming students. I believe these interactions run counter to the business school stereotype that programs and their students are generally separate from the broader universities that steward them.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have been smarter about my networking strategy leading up to the summer internship recruiting season by not prioritizing my current network over the Boston College alumni network. I had placed coffee chats and introductory calls with West Point grads, veterans, and personal contacts ahead of reaching out to fellow Eagles. It was not because I disagreed with BC’s reputation of having an excellent alumni network, but because I felt more comfortable calling on those with whom I had a more established connection. This ended up being a mistake because thanks to the comradery and mentorship provided by Boston College alumni, I received that all-important summer internship offer.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The myth that Boston College is a finance focused school is partially true. To be sure, many of my classmates, myself included, were drawn to the school because of this and will go on to pursue careers in the industry. However, just as many of my peers will pursue careers in the biopharma and consulting industries. I think this trend draws from the university’s proximity to the Greater Boston Area and the unique relationships that the career services professionals, as well as alumni, leverage on the behalf of students.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I think what differentiated my application to BC versus other schools was who I selected to author my letter of recommendation (LOR). While I had many distinguished military officers who wrote LORs for me, the officer who wrote the one to BC struck the right balance between seniority and professional interaction. More specifically, he was my first line leader’s boss, which placed him high enough in my organization to carry weight behind his words, yet could still speak familiarly about what I would bring to BC.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The Eagle I most admire is Taylor Soobitsky. I first met Taylor prior to the beginning of the program during an admissions social event. His welcoming, humble, and keen nature grew my eagerness for the upcoming semester and foreshadowed what many of our classmates would be like as well. During our time together in the program, Taylor has always been a reliable and selfless member of the class. He was elected as a senior leader of our Graduate Management Association and volunteers for Good Sports, a local nonprofit dedicated to equitable access in youth sports. He is also incredibly resilient. Despite being turned down for their summer internship program, Taylor proudly earned a full-time role as an Associate with Analysis Group in Boston. Lastly and most importantly, he has remained a devoted husband and father despite a demanding business school experience.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Ben Hom is a role model of mine who got me started on the path to business school. Ben came highly recommended to me due to his success on both the sell-side and buy-side in the capital markets as well as his unwavering commitment to honorable business practices and his family. I met Ben for lunch one Friday afternoon in Los Angeles with the intent of learning more about business and finance to plan a potential career transition from the US Army. Based on my strong performance in the Army, Ben believed that I had the potential to excel in a career in finance and recommended business school as the logical next step. To top it off, he generously offered me an internship in private equity with St. Cloud Capital to help kickstart my journey prior to joining an MBA program. There is no doubt that Ben’s belief in me was the catalyst I needed to start another adventure.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Manage an investment portfolio with at least $1B AUM.
  1. Hold board seats across at least six Wisconsin based lower middle market companies.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has exposed how unwilling people are to endure pain and inconvenience for long-term success. For individuals similar to myself, this is a tremendous opportunity to lean into this trend by taking on roles of greater responsibility while competition for them remains relatively low. In light of this dynamic, I view my post-pandemic career as one predisposed to taking the difficult path rather than the easy one

What made Chris such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Chris has been an exemplary MBA student with a clear vision of success. A graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, he spent his military career growing through the ranks as an officer in the Army, where he took on progressively responsible roles in operations and training. When Chris left the army in 2020, he knew he wanted to pursue an MBA and was able to secure an internship with a private investment firm in Los Angeles, where he took on support toles to help facilitate learning the business.

Chris was particularly proactive in pursuing his best-fit MBA program and travelled the country during the pandemic meeting with admissions and program representatives. Once he decided on BC, he immediately started to do his homework, knowing that a transition into private equity would take commitment and grit. He used every resource available to him, including veterans’ networks and the BC community. Chris demonstrated the same measured tenacity during his job search, where was prepared for every interview, not taking his foot off the brake until he landed an internship with SVB Leerink. Based on the success of the internship, Chris was offered a full-time job and will be heading to New York City post-MBA.

What makes Chris special is he never stopped helping his fellow students along the way. Always quick to help, Chris has been a great resource for his classmates during their own career searches. His good energy and positive attitude have been an asset for the MBA community.”

Marilyn Eckelman
Associate Dean, Graduate Programs, Carroll School of Management

DON’T MISS: MBAS TO WATCH: CLASS OF 2022

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